Eschatology and Mission

This post is the second post in a nine part series reflecting on InterVarsity's Ambition conference. For more posts in this series, check out the series frontpage (Series: An Ambition for Mission)

We have a hard time knowing what to do with eschatology.

Some of us cash in on the study of "last things." We make wild predictions and call for donations. We make wild accusations and sell books. We make popular fiction and entrap the holy imagination of a generation in small, narrow boxes.

Some of us avoid eschatology actively. The return of King Jesus sounds like a fantasy and his judgement sounds frightening and cruel, out of step with his character of love and mercy. We avoid eschatology as speculation, as ignorance, as a too-gleeful sneering cackle directed at the world God so loves.

But more of us just ignore eschatology, feeling like it has little to do with our day-to-day lives and our engagement with the mission God has included us in.

Not York Moore.

At the Ambition Conference he talked about the Artist of all time, willing to completion his master work, molded from the shards of his shattered Creation. The completion of God's master work is one way of talking about eschatology. And this way of talking about eschatology sculpts the way we view mission.

Our engagement with God's mission is shaped by our view of the end to which God is working. The goal is to make all things new. Following God and with his power, we make new whatever we can. We fight the old, broken, dirty and selfish. Rejuvenate. Pour life into. Bless and serve. And all this in light of God's ongoing work.

Eschatology provides a ring of urgency and saves us from panicked desperation in our participation in God's mission.

As York said, our soteriology sustains us in mission while our eschatology propels us into mission. Without a firm conviction that King Jesus will make all things new, we cannot deeply participate in the mission of God.

What would it look like if we served the poor, fed the hungry, fought injustice, shared the gospel, loved our neighbors, loved our enemies, loved God ... and did all this with a ring of urgency. Not as if this was our last chance, but as if this was our best chance?

As for me, I was challenged by this talk. I have frequently avoided conversations about eschatology, feeling like they distracted us from the real and important task of following Jesus today. These conversations frequently devolve into argument and arrogance. And I'm tired of people who sit on the sidelines debating because they are too afraid or too lazy or too well-pressed to get in the game and get dirty.

But after hearing York's talk I had to wonder, what am I missing by ignoring eschatology? What are we missing?

Monday's post will reflect on Alan Hirsch's session, particularly on his challenge to us to refocus on Jesus, disciple well, rethink mission and organize accordingly. A link will be posted here as soon as the post publishes (Adjustments for the Sake of Mission)

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